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Harness That Bird!!!!

Posted in Birds, Education, Enrichment, Recall, Training, Uncategorized, Zazu with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 11, 2010 by angelsofflight

Zazu...Unharnessed at the beach.

When it comes to harness training I have mixed feelings.  Some birds need it and some birds don’t.  If you are going to keep your birds fully flighted and train them for recall and free flight then the proper skills  need to be obtained, therefore removing the need for a harness.  However, there are those people that don’t train for such things but want to give their birds the opportunity to fly and that’s ok too.  Within the confines of a large aviary or in a well planned and thought out home catered towards your birds, training for flight can be very rewarding.  As far as the harness goes, some people use it for extra precaution when going to town or on vacation with their bird even though the bird is highly trained and a motivated flyer…this is acceptable as well.  However, if a harness is not used properly it is detrimental.  It can damage a birds crop, back, wings and possibly have fatal effects on your feathered companion.  For instance, it is heartbreaking and I cringe when I see a flighted bird on a harness, it is allowed to take off at full speed just to be pulled back by the person holding the other end and then hits the ground with an amazing “THUMP”.  Talk about damage!!!  Now you’ve #1…Ruined his self confidence about flying, #2…Choked the hell out of his crop and possibly damaged something and #3…possibly cracked his keel bone!!  Yeah!!  That’s Positive Reinforcement!!  For the seasoned harness users this could make you want to smack the person upside the head and wrap a dog collar around their neck attached to a leash and send them off the Empire State Building…but in a perfect society we can’t do that!

"Daphne" (Barb Saunders' D2) recalls on a harness

My friend Barb Saunders, author of BarbsBirdsandAviary, uses a harness on her birds when traveling on vacation and talk about a seasoned harness user…the woman knows EVERYTHING about using a harness (she taught me a few tricks when I used to use one with Zazu).  Her birds are trained for recall.  She is very cautious where she recalls her birds eliminating the startle flight as much as possible and just having fun.  In this case a harness is, in my opinion, a grand little accessory.  She is able to set her bird down and recall it in short flights off a railing, a rock, etc.  She doesn’t send her birds flying into the air just to retract them back.  The harness in this case is used properly without any damage to the bird and training has been obtained to make sure both Barb and her birds are safe. “Daphne”, Barbs’ Ducorps Cockatoo was trained at the early age of 3 months old to wear a harness.  This is an important factor.  While Barb has eliminated the use of harnessing, Daphne is a seasoned veteran when it comes to a harness and if need be will wear one without any fuss.  You can’t just slap on a harness and expect your feathered baby to enjoy wearing one!!  It is a patient process and one that needs to be introduced slowly.

Zazu wore a harness in the early stages of her training.

When I was initially training Zazu on her jump flights I admit I used a harness a couple of times.  This was in the early stages of her outdoor training away from her comfort zone and I didn’t want my young (baby) bird to get startled and fly off into a parking lot and get hit by a car…I’m sure you could understand that.  As the months went on, her confidence built as well as mine with different outings and socialization such as the beach, work, and outdoor restaurants.  Therefore I removed the harness after training her to fly down 25 feet out of an oak tree and off the roof of the house…just in case these issues ever came up.  Mind you, those were scary training sessions and SHOULD NOT be done without the help and guidance of a professional.  When going to work she would take off when I called her and fly from the register area to the aquatics department landing safely and securely in the palm of my hand…this is now a properly trained bird at 10 months old.  I have all the confidence in the world with her and I do not use a harness on her at all anymore…it’s my preference.  Her wing feathers are growing out nicely as well and training continues on a daily basis.  As she acquires more wing feathers, she acquires more height and more distance therefore increasing the training for recall.

Zazu...in flight during recall training at the beach.

In one of my seminars I did “Advanced Avian Education” I touched on the recall method and use of a harness.  Obviously there is always that one bad apple in the bushel so trying to convince this man that keeping his Ducorps Cockatoo fully flighted when she was just used as an accessory in his home to make it look more tropical was a bad idea…he found an invitation for an argument…and so my point began.  If you randomly let your bird fly with no recall training, food management, enrichment, positive reinforcement, and so on…you are headed for no where except disaster.  Trying to explain that to this man was a losing battle for me so I finished our argument by giving him my phone number and telling him to give me a call when his bird was up in a 25 foot tree and wouldn’t come down.  Funny thing is, I got a call from his wife 2 weeks later frantically telling me their bird was on the roof of their house and they couldn’t get her down.  They opted for me to teach them about harness training…hummm.

Barb harnesses her birds while on vacation.

So when it comes to wearing a harness…I am all for them providing they are used correctly, maintained in condition, used for the proper purpose, and the bird is trained to wear them (Yes…you need to train your bird to wear them or they think it’s another “scud missile” coming at them from afar!!!).  There are a variety of harnesses to choose from however, Barb and I choose the aviator harness which is available online or through your local pet supply store.  This is a fantastic little tool…use it wisely…PLEASE!!!!

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The Avian Jewel Of Hollywood Florida

Posted in African Grey, Birds, Chop, Enrichment, Macaw, Nutrition, Patricia Sund, Zazu with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 7, 2010 by angelsofflight

On my recent adventure to the East coast of Florida I had the privilege of being introduced to a whole new world of “Birdie Shopping”.  The East coast has so much more to offer for our feathered friends as opposed to the West coast.  There are more specialty shops catering to our feathered counterparts as well as a whole different way of thinking and caring for them.  Everything is more natural and more catered towards the environment and enrichment opportunities that they have there.  With superstores such as PETCO, Pet Smart and Pet Supermarket being really the only avenues for shopping for your birds here in Naples, Florida; they tend to not only cater more to the smaller birds but lack the variety of foods to be sold that we now know the Avian Community needs to fulfill our parrots lives and keep them healthy.  Don’t get me wrong, there are certain “mom and pop owned” stores here that have a bit more variety that you can travel an hour to get to, but why would you do that when just a half hour more driving will get you a plethora of specialties?  Thus this is why The Golden Cockatoo is considered their Avian “Jewel” of Hollywood, Florida.

"Casey" the African Grey

Aside from being one of the major Avian focal points of  the East coast, The Golden Cockatoo also has some amazing and knowledgeable residents.  For instance, “Casey” the African Grey (owned by Susana) greets you when you walk in and firmly reminds you that you are in his neck of the woods so please act and spend accordingly!!  “FCAT” is a Black-headed Caique owned by Richard Horvitz (the President of The Golden Cockatoo).  “FCAT” tends to watch the customers and invite them over for a scritch of his neck.  The whole cast and crew of The Golden Cockatoo makes you feel warm and welcomed in the store.  Any questions you may have they are right there to answer for you.  With 2000 square feet full of Avian paradise for shoppers it’s no wonder why Ian Brown and Richard Horvitz  set out to make the most convenient and variety filled store you could possibly think of.  The customer service, the prices, and the variety of the store just boasts a fantastic shopping experience all the way around!  You know if Patricia Sund is shopping there, the place has to be phenomenal!

Richard Horvitz (President) and Patricia Sund (Parrot Nation)

The ambiance of The Golden Cockatoo is sort of a “Grocery Store For Birds”.  Providing a huge selection from sprouting supplies, nuts, dried veggies and fruits the store has anything and everything you could possibly think of to make your fine feathered friend happy.  During my shopping experience there I found this fantastic bag of grass!  (No…not what your minds are thinking!!)  Avian Herb Salad!!!  This stuff, when put into our ever popular CHOP! provides all the natural grasses and herbs our Avian friends need such as dandelion, red clover, elderberry, lavender, kelp and so on.  I was so amazed at the all natural selection of foods for my birds I went completely nuts and bought up a bunch of it!  The Golden Cockatoo also manufactures their own line of all natural foods and feeds; Noah’s Kingdom has become a household name here at Angels Of Flight! and the dogs like it too!  Fantastic nut and seed mixes provide all the daily essentials that we put into our CHOP!  Again, there is such a plethora of items and ideas you can come up with that it’s no wonder I was there shopping for two and half hours!!

Aisle #1 of the "Grocery Store"

Aisle #2...All Natural "Grocery Store For Birds"

Now onto the toys…what a subject here!!  Words cannot explain the amount of toys there are to choose from!!  “Petco Who?”, “Petsmart what?”  These stores don’t exist anymore when The Golden Cockatoo shows up!!  The assortment of toys, foraging, shredding, wood, plastic, footy toys, beaky toys and so on is enough to give you a happy little buzz!!  There are walls and walls of TOYS!!!  I think that is where the bulk of my time was spent…filtering through walls of toys…I think I made Patricia a bit dizzy running all over the store.  Zazu (my 10 month old Blue and Gold) is a hard chewer.  I get the biggest toys I can find here in Naples at Petco and Petsmart and within an hour…there goes my $24.95 down the drain.  With the toys I picked up at the Golden Cockatoo, after 3 weeks, they are still holding strong!!!  Go Zazu…chew all you want!!  She was so happy I found toys for her that have lasted this long.  I’m a bit on the excited side as well that my purse isn’t in the red zone every week!

Walls full of toys!!

I would have to say that The Golden Cockatoo has to be my all time favorite shopping experience for me.  I am definitely going to make it a point to travel there at least every other month to stock up on supplies.  This has been just another great adventure that Angels Of Flight has had.  I think there might be an idea in my future and a great collaboration for us here in Naples, Florida…hummm…maybe I won’t have to drive over to Hollywood as often as I think…the wheels are always spinning for me!!

So, in closing, if you get a day off from work and you are looking for something to do…I highly suggest getting in your car and driving over to Deerfield Beach, Florida to check out The Golden Cockatoo.  It is a drive and a shopping experience that you will never forget.  I’m so happy I don’t have to wait for the “Bird Fair” to come to town anymore.  I just pack up “Simone” and we are off to Aunt Patricia’s house for some relaxation and birdie shopping at The Golden Cockatoo…our favorite paradise for birds on earth!

Y'all Come Back Now!!!!

The Golden Cockatoo

360-366 South Powerline Road

Deerfield Beach, FL  33442

Phone: (954) 725-0088

www.goldencockatoo.com